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UTG’s Professor Kah in court

Jun 13, 2012, 2:25 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The Vice Chancellor of the University of the Gambia, Professor Muhammed Kah, yesterday made his appearance in the trial involving Dr Gumbo Ali Touray at the Banjul Magistrates Court.

Kah, who is regarded as the prosecution’s star witness in the case, gave his testimony before Principal Magistrate Alagbe.

Gumbo Ali Touray, former Director of International Affairs at the University of The Gambia, is being tried for the offence of giving false information to a public officer.

Prof Kah told the court that he is the vice chancellor of the university, as well as professor in the area of Information and Technology at the university.

He added that he was appointed vice chancellor in 2009, after graduating from different universities with different degrees.

His written resume was tendered in evidence, and marked as an exhibit.

He added that he knew the accused person, and that Dr. Touray was no longer in the employment of the UTG.

Professor Kah told the court that the accused person at one time had a contract with the university, and that his contract expired like that of any other staff at the university.

He added that the accused wrote to the university management for renewal of his contract, but unfortunately it was turned down.

At that point, the prosecuting officer, Superintendent Joof, applied to tender email correspondence between the accused and the management of the UTG.

He added that the said email correspondence was very important because it indicated how the accused person’s services were terminated, and that the said documents were prepared by the accused person himself.

Defence counsel Badou S.M. Conteh raised an objection to tendering of the email correspondence, citing the Evidence Act.

Lawyer Conteh further argued that the said email correspondence had no link to his client’s case, and that all what was in the email was about one Kojo.

However, the trial magistrate ruled that the said documents be tendered in court, and they were admitted and marked as exhibits.

He added that exhibit A was the petition letter the accused person wrote to the Office of the President against the Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia for frequent travelling, among others.

Prof Kah further in his evidence said vice chancellors all over the world periodical travel on the business of the university at all times, and that he as the vice chancellor travelled not only on the ticket of the university, but when the state asks them to attend meetings.

He added that he had a successful academic career before coming home, in at least three continents in world, such as at the American University, in Dubai, and in a university in Nigeria.

He said sometimes when he travels, it is because international organizations needed him as the vice chancellor to attend their meetings on behalf of the UTG.

Designated as the sixth prosecution, Prof Kah added that the public was aware of most of his travels, because there used to be an annual report, and he must seek clearance and other supporting documents from the executive.

He added that the annual report is usually prepared by the management of the UTG, and all the activities of the university must be indicated in the annual report.

He said that the reason for stopping staff loans after consultation with the management of UTG, was due to the financial status of the UTG, which was the duty of any vice chancellor, especially after he took up the office newly.

“I found out that the account was in the red, and there was a big financial mess in the accounts of the UTG. Imagine during my first week in office, the creditors were coming to my office for settlement of their bills.”

He said he realized that the UTG is not there for individual interest, but instead for the larger interest, by restructuring the financial arrangements at the UTG.

Mr. Kojo is a Ghanaian national, he told the court, pointing out that when he worked at other foreign universities, he was never treated like Gambian, further stating that at the university level what mattered was merit.

He added that Kojo’s wife is a Gambian and his wife’s father is a Gambian, also pointing out that professor Stigen (Kah’s predecessor) was not a Gambian.

Prof Kah further adduced that the position of financial director was advertised with The Daily Observer and The Point newspapers, but with the requirement that a candidate graduates from a higher recognised institutions with at least an MBA in finance.

He added that the matter went to the UTG governing council and members included Bai Matarr Drammeh, the president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce, Baboucarr Bouy, permanent secretary for Basic and Secondary Education, some from the Human Resources Directorate, and the secretary of the UTG.

He added that the vice chancellor was not part of the governing council for the interview.

The case was adjourned till 18 August 2012, for cross-examination.